2011 - Paperback
Story Problems is a Carnival that Just Came to Our Town, and Rob Carney is the barker, the shill, the ringmaster, the strongman, the aerialist, and the fortune teller, and he even takes the tickets at the door of the tent. He is a contemporary fabulist, a maker of new myth, a teller of tales, most of them visionary and full of wonder, prayer, and praise; but some of them may have darker undertones, like his “Fables of Faubus.” Always in this book, there is a wild inventiveness, like someone just waking up to the world and giving everything in it, object by object, creature by creature, a new name.
—Richard Garcia, author of The Persistence of Objects, Rancho Notorious, and The Flying Garcias
Divine Banter and Holy Play keeps Rob Carney’s poetry alive and thriving. The insistent innocence in this book’s tone brings sheer wonder into exaltation (“the best peach I’ve ever eaten”), imagination (“the penguin wants to be an astronaut”), and political history (as in “Fables of Faubus,” and elsewhere). It takes a large-hearted poet to exalt in Thai beef salad (“you’ll be glad you’ve got a mouth”) only after roasting the government for its double-speaking about hunger as “food insecurity.” The collection’s full of direct address: “If the sky doesn’t clear, you might have the company of snow.” Carney’s gift is to make us believe that it really is me this time, and it really is you. His blending of the utterly believable with the incredible makes this book a poetic wonderland.
—Maria Melendez author of How Long She’ll Last in This World and Flexible Bones
Rob Carney Must Believe in the Power of Myths: the poetry that can’t be explained by science, the stories with the power to change the course of our lives unexpectedly, late at night, around a crackling campfire. This is lucky for us. Like those stories, the poems in this book will make you laugh, rock back in joy, fall out of your chair in amazement and, while you’re on your back recovering, wonder how we ever forgot that the night sky is full of stars.
—Scott Poole, author of The Cheap Seats and Hiding from Salesmen
Rob Carney is an engine of a man stunned by the inequities of the world and doing his utmost to right the scales in a poetry that’s vivid, direct, funny, political, and rooted in nature. He’s a poet and myth-maker, a shaman of and for the natural world. Story Problems is his third book, and it’s a generous helping, more than 100 pages of poems that are mostly free verse, but that also flirt with form, including haikus, prose poems, and epigrams. He doesn’t stop there: you’ll find multiple choice tests and lost-item postings, too... full review
—Andrew C. Gottlieb